Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer reads

Here's the Lutheran Confessions contribution to the proliferation of summer reading lists! Long live the life of reading! My summaries below are first impressions of these books. Let me know if you're reading any of them with me this summer, or share your summer reads lists in the comments section.

Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World

Co-authored by a #lutherancreative from California and a pastor and community-organizer in New York City, this book brings community organizing into the 21st century, and re-orients for church mobilization in service to the world. Of course all of us can benefit from some of the more classic secular literature on community organizing (beginning with Saul Alinsky) but this book asks and answer the question: How can we organize people of faith to enable them to contribute all of their unique gifts and resources to the broader movement for justice?

Can a Renewal Movement Be Renewed?: Questions for the Future of Ecumenism

Many are claiming that the ecumenical movement has stagnated. Perhaps it has, or perhaps shifts in global religious culture have cultivated a situation where the renewal movement of ecumenism itself  needs to be renewed. Kinnamon, who has devoted his life to the ecumenical movement, offers an important survey of the current state of the ecumenical movement, and points the way forward on several fronts.

Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now

Brueggemann has written the most non-traditional of works on Sabbath. Rather than offering a prescription for Sabbath observance, or falling into the trap of describing sabbath as middle class wish fulfillment for an adequate vacation and meaningful days off, Brueggemann works the Old Testament fields and considers Sabbath as a form of resistance to anxiety, coerciveness, multitasking, and exclusivism.

On Diaspora: Christianity, Religion, and Secularity

I have been interested in a diaspora understanding of Christianity now for quite some time. And I started reading Deleuze this last year also. This book brings together Deleuze and diaspora in some mysterious and complex ways. I am certain I won't understand this book well on a first reading. I am also certain it will be worth my time to be confused.

Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus

This is an evangelical and popular appropriation of the "slow" food movement as it relates to the life of the church. It's written for a wide audience, and could be a really great summer read for small groups or bible studies.

Extremist for Love: Martin Luther King Jr., Man of Ideas and Nonviolent Social Action

Further proof why Fortress Press is an incredible publisher. They are bucking the trends of the wider academic imprint industry, and are doing very well in 2014. This book, a topic specific approach to King that explores how we wove together his life of the mind and his life of action, can serve both as an introduction to King, or a deepening of our understanding of this great man.

The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade

Philip Jenkins writes the global church column for The Christian Century, and now has written a contribution to the centenary of the First World War. I had never really thought of this war as a holy war, and certainly it hadn't occurred to me that it was a significant shift in warfare because so many Christian countries went to war with each other. This is one of two books I'm reading this summer to better understand the continuing impact of The Great War on our lives today.

The Bosnia List: A Memoir of War, Exile, and Return

A young survivor of the Bosnian war returns to Bosnia to confront the people who harmed his family. My wife brought this book to my attention, and said it is an incredible study in reconciliation and forgiveness. I think I'll be using this book for one of our church book groups in the fall of this year.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Yes, we live in a new kind of empire. The divide between the rich and the poor has hardly ever been wider in the United States, and shows no signs of slowing. 5% of the population controls over 70% of the wealth, which means most investment in innovation in our nation is now done by a startlingly small group. Given how much this affects our daily lives and future, understanding capital and how it functions in this century is important for all Lutherans who are committed to sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all.

The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer

Yes, a book about soccer. Everybody is watching soccer, but I thought it would be worthwhile to read a global history. When I start coaching again next fall, I don't know whether my team will be interested in tales from around the world, but we can always hope.

The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century

This is the other WWI read this summer, focused on the legacy of The Great War. Lots has been written about the start of the war. This analyzes its effects.

A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Theory and Technique

Lacan comes up all over the place as influence on other philosophers and theologians I read, but I've never spent much time learning about Lacan straight-up. Partially that is because he is a post-structuralist and notoriously difficult to understand. This is a popular and helpful summary look at his work and ideas.

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